Is the downvote-answer feature necessary on Quora?

Yes.  Without downvoting, I think you open Quora up to non-constructive answers which weaken the strength of the site. See What are good and bad reasons to downvote answers on Quora? That question has a number of answers that get at this point. That question and its answers also support the secondary point that Justin Bishop is making — which I agree with — that unfair/unreasonable downvoting is demoralizing.

3 Replies to “Is the downvote-answer feature necessary on Quora?”

  1. Yes. There needs to be a way to filter out low quality answers. People have the right to express their opinion, but they also have to understand the quality control measures that were implemented are there to keep quality high. The reason this place isn't Yahoo answers is because of the effectiveness of the downvote mechanism. Quora is the BMW, Yahoo is the Yugo. Ideas should be given a fair hearing, and if their quality is poor they should be sent back to the shop for repair.

    However, I think it's almost time to implement Marc Bodnick's answer to Would it be helpful if users were prompted with a dialog box to select a reason when downvoting an answer on Quora? asking for an anonymous reason why you are downvoting, as well as reminding people what the use of a downvote is, occasionally.

    Here's my idea of a popup on downvote & anonymous downvote comments, though its a little heavy on the Quora User clean design scale, and clearly would need some Quora design mojo:
    Taking Quora to 11: Your Mom Called (UX Changes For Civility)

    It wouldn't appear every time, but would occasionally remind users, based on their voting patterns, when its appropriate to vote something down. As the political season heats up, I can imagine there being more need for some kind of downvote confirmation on occasion.

  2. No.

    There's a rift in understanding between Quora admins and (many) users on the use of a downvote – at least, from my perspective.

    The 'official' reasons to downvote: What are good and bad reasons to downvote answers on Quora?  Note that downvoting based on opinion is discouraged.  Also, note that a new user gets zero direction for this particular UI widget.

    See some other reactions: When should one downvote an answer rather than collapse it? and What are some different voting philosophies on Quora? (in some cases, it's because the user doesn't agree with an answer – in some others it's to evangalize another answer on the question)

    It's also concerning that, with downvotes, perfectly valid answers – like Elizabeth Grattan's on this question – can be confusingly lowered rather far, even though they have a large number of up votes.

    So, at the very least, the downvote feature is confusing to users.

    Fortunately, we have another feature that serves the exact same purpose, with additional clarity and benefits: flagging an answer!

    Even better:

    • By giving suggested reasons to flag a answer, it guides users on when to negatively vote on an answer.
    • It's less demoralizing (gives the answerer a reason why their answer was given a negative vote)
    • It provides better data to Quora to more appropriately deal with bad/unhelpful answers.
    • It's a consistent feature: you can also flag questions.
    • It avoids the more shady (and less accountable) sides of the popularity contest between answers on a question.

    Clarification: I completely agree with the reasons for downvoting outlined in What are good and bad reasons to downvote answers on Quora? – I'm just advocating that we can use the flag feature instead of it, to accomplish the same goals with less confusion.

  3. I'll agree that there needs to be more than just an upvote, but I disagree with the current implementation with the downvote appearing as a *slap on wrist* and scaring people off.

    The issue is that its a bit cruel for well-intentioned answers, although quite brutally fair for inappropriate, trolly and irrelevant answers (they do deserve the banishment into the netherlands of the answer pile). But like Justin Bishop pointed out, its demoralizing for new users (which is not great for a new startup trying to build a community).

    My suggestion:

    • Introduce a third option in between up and down that's similar to a "rethink" vote. The rethink vote (which will be public, not anonymous) will indicate the people that think you should improve your answer – and similar to the downvote they'll provide a comment as to why. The popup will focus on the constructive criticism aspect. Its a 0 vote so it won't move you up or down, but perhaps those are votes that can be potentially up if you put in more effort. (maybe rethink voters could be notified of an edit)
    • The downvote becomes the "flag" option for scammish, trollish answers. Still anonymous and still making the posts hidden once they are negative tallied.

    Hopefully these users won't feel like they've been ostracized – they're not bad just off-track.

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